Long-awaited U.S. hours-of-service proposal released

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United States Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released its final rule on truck driver hours-of-service, bringing U.S. and Canadian rules closer together.

A new federal rule will take effect Jan. 4, 2004, says Annette Sandberg, acting FMCSA administrator. The main provisions of the rule include:

* 11 hours maximum daily driving (up from the current 10 hours)
* 14 hours maximum daily working (down from current 15 hours)
* 10 hours minimum daily off-duty time (up from current eight hours)
* Two duty cycles 60 hours in seven days or 70 hours in eight days
* A split-rest sleeper berth provision for single drivers, enabling one split per day provided that neither rest period is less than two hours
* A newly introduced reset provision enabling a driver to start a new cycle after taking 34 consecutive hours off duty.

This is the first significant change to the hours-of-service ruling in the U.S. since 1939, and David Bradley, CEO of the Canadian Trucking Alliance, says he is pleased to see that the U.S. rules appear to borrow heavily from the Canadian proposal.

“Both countries used the same scientific research, so it isn’t surprising that at the end of the day we would have a more harmonized system,” says Bradley.

Any remaining differences between the Canadian and U.S. regimes do not present a safety risk to road users, says Bradley.

“Canadian and U.S. cross-border truck drivers have long been accustomed to operating under the rules of the country in which they are driving,” says Bradley. “As a group, Canadian or American, they are by far the safest drivers on the road.”

The early attempts to establish different requirements for different categories of drivers, and the government’s move toward mandating electronic on-board recorders (EOBR) for long-haul vehicles. The FMCSA has announced their plan to expand their research into the EOBR initiative as well as look at alternatives for providing incentives for their use to ensure hours-of-service record keeping is accurate.

To view more details about the FMCSA proposal visit www.fmcsa.dot.gov.

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